Getting a Pet for Everyone (Edit)

Updated on March 03, 2012
L.L. asks from Killeen, TX
19 answers

My husband and I want to get a pet for our daughter for her 2nd birthday in a few months. We just don't know if we want a dog or a cat. Our Daughter likes both, but likes cats just a little more. Me and my husband like cats but would rather have a dog. We would love to have a bigger dog and just worry about how our daughter and the dog would get along. What should we do? Would a dog or cat be better? I am a stay at home mom so there will be time for me to train a dog. We do want a puppy just get them use to each other and let them grow together. She has been around big dogs before and does do okay with them as long as she has time to get use to them.

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answers from Columbia on

A dog would be best, as long as you're willing to take care of it.

Cats are NOT toddler pets. They have sharp teeth and claws...and unlike a dog, you can't guarantee that you'll be able to train them not to use them.

I'd get a bigger dog. Small dogs don't tend to do well with toddlers. Bigger dogs (that you get as puppies) are usually very patient and tolerant of a little one.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

We have dogs. I waited until my daughter was 4 yrs old because I knew how much work it would be to bring a 12 wk old puppy home. It was a TON of work. The puppy didn't sleep through the night or train for a while. I was exhausted for the first few months. We love her...and it's much easier now that she is older.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Colorado Springs on

In my experience, no matter who the pet ostensibly belongs to, it's actually Mama's! You'll be the one taking the responsibility to make sure this living creature is healthy, happy, and socialized. Your daughter will be able to help just a little, at her age, but cannot take anything like significant responsibility. If your husband is like mine, he'll help a bit, but might not be as much into it. Remember that adopting a pet into your family is making a ten to twenty year commitment. (I'm not saying you don't know all this; this is just my standard lecture.)

A new pet is like a new baby in the family. Is someone at home during the day? If not, consider a cat or two. Cats do better at home alone than dogs do. Cats like attention, but they'll gladly be the boss of your home if you want them to. A dog, being a pack animal, *needs* a leader (that's you). If you're not at home to lead, he will attempt to be the leader, and you may not be happy with that.

Count on lots of training, attention, exercise times, and vet bills. If you are interested more in a dog, go online and check out the various breeds. Find out the distinctions of the breeds you're interested in. You could contact a rescue organization for the breeds you like; you'll find out about the positive and negative aspects of the breed from people who are really knowledgable about that type of dog. Consider mixed breed dogs, too, who sometimes can be the friendliest and sweetest you can ever find.

You may want to consider adopting an older (a few months old) pet instead of a baby, since you have a two-year-old. Our local humane society doesn't place young puppies or kittens in families with very young children. But there are shelter dogs and cats desperate for homes, through no fault of their own.

My children grew up with both dogs and cats - as well as fish, hamsters, and parakeets from time to time. Lots of fun!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

You could get a bigger dog, but just start with a puppy. That way, the dog isn't so intimidating from the start. Investigate the different breeds online to get a sense of which ones are great with kids and then check local shelters to see what's out there. is a great resource for finding dogs at shelters.

We just got a German Shepherd puppy last summer. The breed has a super reputation with kids. We thought a puppy would be good because our oldest had a fear of dogs, so we started small. It really worked. He overcame his fear and now roughhouses with the dog.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Cats are more self sufficient and easier to care for, in my opinion. If you go on vacation for a week, you can leave their cat box and a large automatic food/water and they are good. I've had both and we currently have a dog. After he is gone, we will be PETLESS! Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

You said the pet is for your daughter.
Being she is a Toddler, 2 years old, she is not going to know how to care for a pet. Nor how to manage one or maybe not even know how to play with one.
Toddlers, are generally not 100% astute, in how to handle pets/animals etc.
AND... some animals (dog or cat) do not like children. It is a breed and personality, thing. So keep that in mind.

Cats are more independent and easier in that sense and are more self sufficient.
You don't have to take it on walks or take it to potty or pee. Cats use a litter box. By themselves. And you don't have to play with it as much or train it as much. Dogs... require, interaction and training and you need to play with it and spend time with a dog. Just like you would a child.
So.. .is that what you want to do???? Or have time for?

Puppies, make lots of noise. And yap. And need a lot of interaction and attention.

I have had dogs and cats all my life.
Cats are less high maintenance.

Whether it is a dog or cat.... they also have their personalities. Some are more high strung and/or do not like kids. Some are more mellow and more "lap" pets.
Not all cats, scratch. Mine never did, unless they were being attacked. By other cats outside.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Our grandkids that are younger are afraid of our standard Poodle just because of size. I would get a medium size dog, like a miniature Poodle. They love kids, don't shed, are very smart and we had one for 17 years that grew up with our kids. She even protected the infants and sat by them, would come get me if they woke crying, etc. She was about 12 lbs. As you can tell I'm partial to Poodles but I think they are just great for kids.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I had the same issue two years ago so here is what I did! We went to petsmart and saw the beautiful cats and kittens. My children were 3 and 5 at the time and I desided a cat was an ok pet. I am a huge dog.lover and wants one so bad but with young kids and little time I gave in! The humane society let us pick a cat but then sat me down and sai with young kids a kitten might be a better choice since their temperment is not as set. So off we went and saw a cute little kitten that we all fell in love witg and her little brother in the cags with her. He was already being adopted so we put our application in for his sister Zsa Zsa. That afternoon I got a call that Zeke's application fell through and would I consider him also. Ugh! I did not want two cats since i had my heart set on a dog in a few years but we took them both! Let me tell you it was the BEST thing I have ever done! They keep each other company but are both still very social with the family. They love the kids and are so patient with the kids feeding them! At night they each go into a room and cuddle with the kids. My children have lost their father so I offten hear my son telling Zeke about his day and how he misses his daddy. Both kids do the care of the cats, i do clean the litter boxes but the take turns feeding and giving them water. Almost two years later we have added a puppy but god she is a handful! I love her but kittens, put them in the litter box once and you have no accidents! Vet bills were nothing and they came to us spayed. The puppy has needed vet appoitments, flea, heartworm ect... she has been a wonderful addition and even the cats love her. So coming from a mom to two kids and three pets. The kittens were the best idea! Much success in whatever you chose!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I've had cats and dogs. I choose dogs.

I have started with puppies and with dogs. The dogs were already house broken and were so much easier and nicer to have. The shelter had an area where my kids could play with the dogs and see if they were compatible. When I brought the dogs home it took less than 30 minutes to get the dogs used to going in and out of the doggie door and doing their business outside. If you get a puppy it takes months to get them house broken.

If you look up on google, you can find the top 10 most intelligent dogs. I'd get a mutt with a lot of the most intelligent and kid friendly dog. I'd also get a breed in the 15 to 25 pound range. Why? They are big enough to be handled by kids and small enough to not scare the kids.

Good luck to you and yours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We got a 50 lb coonhound when my daughter was 3y, son was 9y. He could literally bowl her over. She learned to avoid him and would ignore him. That wasn't the relationship/bonding I wanted. We ended up taking him back to the ASPCA because other things happened that proved he wasn't a good fit for our family or house.

If you decide on a puppy, look for one that when grown will be around 30 lbs grown, max.

We just got a new 10m puppy from the shelter in Jan. Daughter is 5y, son is 10 1/2 y. She is a whopping 14 lbs!! My kids love her. She loves them. There are times when they want to play too much.... :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

Go on You can look at TONS of animals in your area, narrow down the search (great search engine) and read about each animals personality from the people who take care of them. It is a terrific site, I recommend it to everyone!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Only you would know the answer to this one. We don't know what you're looking for in a pet or how much time and energy you're wanting to spend.

I suggest that since you prefer a dog that a dog would be the best. At 2 your daughter will not be sharing the responsibility. You need to get enjoyment to counter balance the responsibility.

Ease of taking care would influence me. I'd get a cat because they do not take as much time and effort to care for them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

i'd wait until shes 5 for a puppy. I got a puppy for my daughter and M. when she turned 3 and the puppy was 7 weeks and nipped her in the face and it tore her lip almost completely off....7 stitches in the face later and 2 weeks of quarantining a puppy before returning it to check for rabies and I would never get a young pup with a toddler again! My friend got one a few months later with her 3 year old, it was way to rough and she returned it and decided to wait until her daughter was a bit older too. BTW my daughters always been around dogs, she had a dog since she was born, but puppies are diferent! The spca ussually won't even let you get one if you have a toddler because its so common for toddlers to get bit. Also toddlers have no fear!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

What is your schedule like? Will you be home to take the dog for walks and take it out for potty breaks or will it be alone most of the day? Do you vacation where you can take a dog? Do you have people who can dog sit for you? When you say larger breed, is this a breed you have experience with? Have you had and trained a dog before? Are you looking for a puppy or a rescue dog with a known personality? Has she been around dogs of that size/type before?

I think either can be fine and that your DD will have to learn to be nice to either of them. I think that it comes down to your own experience and schedule/household. We have cats because we don't have the schedule for a dog.

If you are concerned about cat scratches, I recommend learning how to trim nails and/or using soft paws. The soft paws are really easy to use. Our cats have been with us since DD was newborn or just a toddler.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Memphis on

We moved 6 years ago and wanted to get an animal for our children to help with the stress of the move....I was a cat person everyone else a dog.

I did many hours of research and we ended up with a Mini Austrailian shepherd. He is the BEST dog ever. There are full sized or mini versions and they are all well tempered and great for families. VERY smart breed and very trainable. I even trained ours to ring a bell that I hung at his level by the door to go out side to go potty....

Good luck in which ever you choose!


answers from Jacksonville on

I echo CAmom. But I would wait until your daughter is a little bit older. We got our GSD pup when our youngest was about to turn 3 (not 2). She was like, 3 weeks from her 3rd birthday and was (and IS) a HUGE animal lover. Especially dogs.
GSD's can be super family members, but they need lots of time to train them properly when they are pups. And they need regular exercise as non-puppies to keep them physically exercised and also mental activities, because they are smart dogs. They can become destructive OR depressed, if you do not provide them with adequate mental stimulation. Ours is happiest with regular walks of 2 miles or more and regular games of "find the ____"...

Also, keep in mind, that GSD's are working dogs and herders. So they will try to herd your little kiddo. And they use their mouths to do this. Another reason I say wait until your daughter is a bit older. Ours took some work to get her to not nip at the elbows to herd the kids down the hall. She never BIT them, but their puppy teeth are like little needles and they hurt even with just a pinch from them. And your kids will scream "she bit me!" when they really aren't biting, just nipping/herding. It isn't the same thing. But your kids won't have the discernment to know the difference and your dog could end up labeled as a "biter" which can be bad news for your dog. :(

Wouldn't trade my GSD for anything... but they are work in the beginning to grow them up into them to be happy, blended family members.



answers from Louisville on

do a dog, cats work better for older children. dogs are more sturdy and more social, do your homework tho! newfoundlands are WONDERFUL with kids great pyrnees are amazing too



answers from Dallas on

We got a dog, an Australian Shepherd, for our children when my daughter was 3 months-old and my son was 19 months-old. My only issue at the time was I wish the 3 month old puppy had come potty-trained. My children adored that dog, and often talk about growing up with her.



answers from Allentown on

You're the one who will really be taking care of the pet, and as you know, a pet is for life so so get one that you have time for and truly want...

A young dog is best so it and your child grow up together. Some small dogs can be a bit nervous. Retrievers are good with kids. I love cats and agree that two are better than one, but kittens scratch so might not be best for a toddler. Trust me, your daughter will love the puppy!

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